It has now been nearly 48 hours since the world learned of the death of Usama Bin Laden at the hands of a United States soldier. There have been thousands upon thousands of blog posts and news stories written, dissecting every possible angle of this monumental story. Still more articles have been penned which do not even come close to anything resembling the truth. Speculation, conspiracy theories and outright lies have been printed on websites around the globe. The Internet is a fantastic place to get the news, there’s no doubt about it. But it is always accurate news you’re reading?
I cannot begin to tell you how many times in the past two days I have literally slapped a hand to my forehead, nor how often I have sighed very loudly while reading yet another far-fetched account of the events in Pakistan. The problem is that it’s not a simple matter of people having different opinions and viewpoints than you or I do. The issue is that too many people are focused on getting as much traffic as they can… and they don’t really care if they are printing actual facts. These types of people will say anything they can to suck you in. They love to tick you off, knowing you’ll link to their “journalistic piece” on their social networks in order to tell others how bad it is. That, of course, gains them even more traffic.
Earlier tonight, I happened to be browsing my way through recent stuff posted on our LockerGnome questions and answers site. I was reading a thread where people are debating whether or not the burial of Bin Laden was “proper.” An argument broke out when one person posted something absolutely ludicrous, claiming it to be a fact. When asked to back up his statement, he provided a link to an obscure blog that he favorites. Clicking through to read their article, my hand once again made contact with my head. (Note to self: invest in a forehead cushion!)
A quick ten-second Google search gave me the needed ammunition. Solid proof can be found on a website dedicated to the teachings of the Islamic religion. Which “facts” are you going to believe… those which came from a blogger who clearly doesn’t agree with something and hasn’t done his research or an official website of the religion itself?
Take everything you read online with a few grains of salt, even supposed news stories. Fiction abounds, my friends, as do people with less-than-honorable intentions. You also have to wade through rumors to determine what is real. Let’s not forget that the original stories about Bin Laden included the “fact” that he had been dead for a week. Unfortunately, there are many out there still holding on to that little tidbit as truth.
Just like when buying a product, do your research before accepting what you are reading as truth. Try to set aside your feelings and take the words in through an open mind before deciding whether the words on the page are facts.